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Worldwide B.O. crown for ‘Pearl’

Epic takes summer crown, 'Shrek' may take 2001 title

SYDNEY — The costly epic that probably drew more flak from critics and industryites than anything else this summer has emerged as the B.O. king of the world.

Disney’s oft-maligned “Pearl Harbor” took the crown as No. 1 film worldwide this summer, racking up $197 million domestically and $234.4 million abroad.

Its combined tally tops $431 mil-lion, beating “Shrek,” with $425.8 million and “The Mummy Returns,” with $417.9 million.

Globally for the year, however, the WWII romantic drama looks sure to surrender the title to “Shrek.” Last weekend “Pearl” bowed in Greece, its last significant territory, collecting $420,000 on 88 screens — the industry’s fifth-best preem in history.

“Shrek,” which has notched up $262.9 million domestically and $162.9 million abroad, opens this weekend in Scandinavia and Greece, while Japan lies ahead in December.

That three hits have crossed the $400 million mark so far this year underlines the buoyant state of the theatrical marketplace at home and abroad, especially considering that in 2000 only three films (“Mission: Impossible 2,” “Gladiator” and “Cast Away”) reached $400 million.

The Michael Bay-helmed pic ranks as Disney’s third-biggest live-action release of all time, behind “Armageddon” ($554 million) and “The Sixth Sense” ($530 million, which doesn’t include the foreign markets where Spyglass had the rights). In more than 30 markets, it’s BVI’s No. 1 or No. 2 live-action champ.

Given the subject, it’s ironic that the most lucrative territories have been Japan ($50.4 million) and Germany ($27 million).

It’s the year’s third highest-earner in Japan, trailing Toho’s toon “Spirited Away” and “A.I. Artificial Intelli-gence.” In Germany, it’s the summer’s No. 2 film behind Western spoof “Der Schuh des Manitu.”

Among other milestones, “Pearl’s” $12 million haul in South Korea stands as that market’s fifth-biggest of all time, while after four weeks in China, it’s already the third-highest grosser (behind “Titanic” and “True Lies”), with $10.1 million.

U.K., Oz cumes shine

Other impressive cumes include the U.K.’s $18 million, Australia’s $9.7 million and Italy’s $9.1 million. Among the handful of markets in which “Pearl Harbor” has underperformed, relatively speaking, are France ($11.3 million) and Spain ($7.1 million).

“Its North American gross is a great accomplishment by any measure, and we couldn’t be more pleased that this film was equally able to reach interna-tional audiences in such huge num-bers,” said Dick Cook, chairman of the Disney Motion Pictures Group.

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